Amputations may occur as the result of trauma, infection, diabetes, vascular disease, cancer or other diseases and are utilized as a medical solution when other avenues of treatment have been exhausted.
When a limb is removed, patients experience a change in their center of gravity, mobility, and ability to perform activities of daily living like dressing, toileting and bathing. They must adjust emotionally to their changed body and sometimes experience phantom pain in the missing limb.
Each patient is evaluated by an amputation team operating under the leadership of a physiatrist. Together with the family, professionals in the fields of rehabilitation nursing; clinical nutrition; psychology; pastoral care; vocational counseling; case management; and physical, occupational and recreational therapies work with the patient to achieve the best outcome possible.
One of the most important parts of the treatment team is the family. The family is provided with training, professional support, education and counseling and works with the patient's treatment team to provide information about the patient's personality, lifestyle, and hopes.
The goals of the program are specific to each patient and injury, but overall are aimed at restoring, enhancing, and supporting the patient's maximum level of independence. Through inpatient, outpatient, day hospital, sub acute, and vocational rehabilitation programs, Siskin Hospital offers comprehensive rehabilitation at every level of treatment, from initial therapy to returning the patient to the community, school or work.
Components of Care
For the amputation patient, it is important to treat the residual limb to ensure that it heals well and is formed properly. Clinicians trained in wound care will bandage and clean the wound to encourage healing, prevent infection, and to shape it for prosthetic fitting.
Following a prosthetic fitting with an onsite prosthetist, patients continue a treatment plan to address the social, psychological and physical effects of their amputation. Primary areas of concern in returning patients to life activities include dressing and personal care skills, mobility, skin care, leisure activities, pain management, and psychological and social adjustment.
Mobility is evaluated and recommendations are made to improve independence. Patients receive intensive physical and occupational therapy to adjust to their new center of gravity, prosthesis, and to improve their strength and flexibility. A skin care management program is developed to maintain skin integrity of the limb and to educate the patient about the importance of nutrition, skin checks and prosthetic management.
Before returning to community living, patients may participate in planned outings to learn the use of their adaptive equipment or prosthesis, and to plan ways to deal with barriers and obstacles in the community. The driving program allows patients to evaluate their ability to drive and learn to use adaptive devices or compensation techniques. In preparation to return home, a home evaluation may be conducted to determine accessibility issues and how those issues may best be addressed. For some program participants, successful return to work or school will only require minimal adjustment, but others may require assistance with finding a new career direction. The entire team, including the family, conducts evaluation and planning for the patient's vocational and educational needs.
**November is National Limb Loss Awareness Month. Please click here to learn more about preventing limb loss.